Monday, October 22, 2012

The barking dead

How many years has it been since the barker epidemic spread among the Filipino populace? Since the unemployed and the idle began getting it into their heads that it's OK not to get real jobs and just feed off of drivers and passengers of public utility vehicles and taxi cabs? I'm not sure how many have already been infected in the entire country, but here in Manila and its surrounding provinces, the situation is getting worse.

Just tonight while I was walking towards the mini-bus terminal to take my last ride home, I was touched in the arm by a barker. I have personal space issues so I was taken aback, but since I was tired and I didn't want to get into a fight, I stopped in my tracks and glared, not at the man but only in his direction. After about a second, I resumed walking and when he was already behind me, he snarled at me. Yes, snarled. I felt like I had just been transported into a zombie movie and thank goodness I don't carry a katana around or I would have done something irreparable by surgery to that man with it.

Barkers around here are getting more and more aggressive. Many times have I shaken my head after seeing a jeepney driver give money to a barker for supposedly ushering passengers into his vehicle. The existence of these barkers and the validation provided by drivers who support them are an insult to educated people. I do not need to know that that white car with a yellow light on top is what we call a cab. I do not need to know which jeepney could take me to Cubao from Eastwood City, because only Cubao jeepneys pass by the area anyway, thank you very much. What I need to know really is where these uncouth men got their impressive sense of estimating butt sizes, because how can they say two more can sit on my side of the jeepney when a bottom-heavy couple has just plopped into the space beside me! It would have been fine if their existence actually improved the lives of commuters everywhere, but for the lazy and ignorant tourist, or even someone like me who manages to get lost in a place he's already been to a dozen times, asking around and reading signs couldn't be too difficult that the presence of barkers would be needed.

If we were to look at this situation as a reflection of the country's economic state, then we can say things really are quite hopeless around here already. These barkers couldn't get a real job, and the Philippines, try as it might, couldn't seem to get out of the pit it has fallen into, and it certainly isn't helped by the officials its people are electing or the laws these officials are passing. I don't know about everyone else but I primarily enjoy watching TV series like The Walking Dead and movies like Resident Evil because it makes me wonder how exhilarating life must be in a post-apocalyptic world. No government. No cash or currency. Just survival of the fittest, kill or be killed. Not a care if you're sweaty or you have eye bags and your clothes aren't trendy or color-coordinated, as long as you're wearing pants with enough pockets, a thick shirt, sturdy boots and armed with at least a handgun to kill the next barker that comes at you... The next walker, I mean. Goodness knows there's a difference... Or is there?

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